It seems like the most heated debates surround parenting. People are passionate about it. I get it. I am too! For as many parents who are very much into having their kids attend public school, there are a whole lot of parents who have chosen to homeschool. There are hands off parents and helicopter parents. Breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding. You name it, we argue about it. Today’s topic is a little along those lines — sleep guidelines and why my kids don’t go to bed early and I’m okay with it.
I have been in both camps.
When my oldest two were younger, they were in bed by 7pm, 7:30pm at the latest. We had long days of therapy, activities to be at, school, etc and by 7pm they were tired and I was tired. I was “on” all day long and looked forward to some alone time. Even though we had very busy days, our nights were OURS. We didn’t really have anywhere to be at night time. We ate dinner as a family every night at 5pm when Josh got home from work, they took baths, got pajamas on, hung out, read books, said prayers and went to bed. Even though it was a super crazy time in our lives and physically exhausting, things were a little simpler then. Ha! If you would’ve told me that then, I would’ve laughed in your face. I patted myself on the back for having dinner on the table (usually), eating as a family and getting them to bed at a set early time.
Fast forward to today. I now have 3 big kids. We rarely eat all together because we are bouncing from place to place- one person going here why the other is there. I now know why my friends with big kids used to tell me how hard it was just to sit down together to eat. We aren’t all usually home at the same time before 8pm except for on school breaks (the kids and my husband who is in law school at night). Our nights are no longer OURS like they used to be. We are at church activities, sports, have all kinds of homework and obligations.
A friend of mine posted this chart that she found from Wilson Elementary School at the beginning of the school year:
I asked on Facebook how many people had kids who were actually sticking to that chart (mainly because it was really unrealistic for us, but wondering if we were in the minority). While there were people who have children who fall within the range, the main consensus was that it was unrealistic…
The next day, I posted this updated version on Facebook:
Let me clarify that while my kids don’t go to bed by 7pm, we do want them in bed by 9- 9:30 pm. They are early risers (always have been), if they get to bed much later than that (other than special occasions) they are grumpy the next day. This post isn’t to say that kids should rule the house and go to bed whenever they feel like it. There needs to be some order, boundaries and expectations. I just am not stressing out about getting my kids to bed by 7pm like I used to when my older kids were little. I used to get a little flustered if they weren’t in bed on time.
Obviously, much like everything else in life, the preference is for balance. Our goal is to for our kids have an adequate amount of sleep to be well rested and to be able to learn and grow. There is a great Parents.com post about sleep schedules and what we should aim for. I used that information to create this chart:
You can download this chart to use as a guideline. For personal use only.
While I am obviously of the “my kids don’t go to bed early” camp, there are lots of parents to have their kids go to bed at 7pm every night. Your Modern Family explains why they go to bed early in their family.
Which side do you fall on?
Check out some of my other parenting posts:
Thank you Mique,
So, what I have gotten out of your post is that everyone knows their own children, what works for them. For some, going to bed early, on a timed schedule works great. On the flip side, kids go to bed later et that works for them – parents don’t need to feel badly that their kids go to bed later. I have 2 busy boys – 8 et 10. We do basketball, soccer, cub scouts, gymnastics, theatre, art. Even with all of the activities going on – our schedules vary a bit from week to week, we have the advantage of being able to sit down for dinner together most evenings (my husband’s schedule can vary from week to week). My younger son needs more sleep than my older son, so we make sure that our boys are in pajamas et ready for bed by a set time, (which for us is 8:00 – 8:15 ) but we allow them about half hour from that time to decide if they want to turn out lights et go to sleep or stay up for a while longer et read or draw. It varies from night to night et with each of the kids. Luckly my boys are responsible enough to know to turn out the lights at the respected time if they decide to stay up. Thank you f or both of the charts – I appreciate the suggested hours given for the ages; the most important thing is that kiddos get adequate sleep no matter what time works for your family. Hours of sleep will also vary a bit depending on if they are going through a growth spurt , certain ages; many mothers of teens say that their kids sleep a ton!!
My 17 month old has never followed that schedule. Due to our families work schedules he’s in bed at 8:30, and up by 6:30 so he can get to the sitters. He sometimes will nap for an hour or two during the day other times he’ll skip a nap. I find trying to fit kids into a specific ‘sleep pattern’ based on their age is crazy. Each child/family life is different.
I know that for myself when I was that age I needed and my body demanded 9-11 hours of sleep and that was when I was 12-18. When I was 2-6 I had naps that were built into the schedule and now watching my sweet nephew growing up he is the sake and I am very happy to see that my wonderful sister in law makes sure he gets it along with his Tae Kwan Doe (I’m sure that I misspelled that) ,his soccer and his schooling. Nicholas is only 6 and he needs his sleep but he also has learned to nap anywhere. We also use a wagon instead of a stroller since he was 3 due in large part that he is already 4′ tall and the doctor thinks he will be in the high six foot range. We(his paternal grandparents and his aunt) play a large part in his life as my brother lives away from everyone else in the family and there are only the 3 of us left on this side of the family
Amanda Pauley says
Your sleeping/nap chart is totally unrealistic and wrong.
Not only is it not breastfeeding friendly but not in touch with reality. So sad it made it to facebook where it can do serious damage mothers self esteem.
Why would a post on Facebook damage my self esteem?
To Amanda, Agreed that newborns have their own schedules et new moms’ do the best they can with that. Newborns do learn with time how to get on to a more regular sleep schedule – it is learned et practiced. Both sleep schedules shown give parents suggested et recommended guidelines as resources to use. Mique’s point was to let parents know that not all families have to feel that they have to abide by what everyone else doing. As kids get older, with busier out of home schedules then bed times aren’t always concrete; it’s hard to have an 8:00 bed time when soccer practice on Tuesday night is 7:00 – 8:00 or when there is a theatre performance from 7:00 – 9:00 on a Friday night.
I am curious to know how / why the sleep schedules would affect a parent’s self esteem? Perhaps the suggested sleep schedule times don’t work for you, but the hours are just given as guidelines to go by, no matter what the time.
We let our 4 year old decide when to go to bed and she wants to start her bedtime routine around 6:30 and is usually asleep by 7- 7:30 at the latest. She doesn’t nap during the day but she has to be up around 7 (sometimes wakes up as early as 5:30)
She loves her sleep.
We also have a 5 week old who most of the time will only seem comfortable sleeping either on my chest (when my husband is around to watch) or on a lap.
I looked at that newborn chart and have to say I just about started laughing out loud at that. I’ve been trying to get her down to sleep (not on my lap) for about 4 hours now.
My daughters bed time has been around 9 since she was about 6 months old. She is 3 now, has stopped napping, but she sleeps in. She goes to pre-school now, so im working on getting her asleep by 9, instead of going to bed at 9. Its only difficult because im having to retrain myself lol. My SO works for the railway so we don’t have a set family schedule. Dinner is usually around 6. I am now trying to start bedtime routine between 7:30-8, as she ‘requires’ 2-3 stories, a couple of songs, and i need to stay in her room, until she falls asleep.. Once we have another kid that will have to be changed a bit, but luckily it works for now. Momma needs her ‘me’ time lol
My kids are 11 and 6. They are in bed no later than 10. My ideal time would be for them to be in bed at 9, but with our Softball/Baseball schedule that is not always doable. They have always had a 9 o’clock bedtime. At 2 days old my 11 year old would sleep longest and best from 9-6:3 and I just keep it that way. She napped until she was 6 which was awesome. My 6 year old just followed sisters lead, but because we “live” at the ball field a lot he can sleep anywhere. He dropped his naps around 4 years. He’s outgrown the stroller but I do have a wagon. If a game goes past 9 because of extra innings Bubs will just get in the wagon and go to sleep. Our league is really good at trying to get our kids home before 9 though.
Hey Mique, I’m in the same boat you were in when your babes were little. I’ve only got 2 littles under 3 right now but we can never seem to get them in bed before 8-8:30. BUT they are great nappers. My 1 yo takes 2 2-3 hour naps in the day and my 2 3/4 yo gets 1 3-4 hour nap, and as a WFH parent, I really need that time to get anything done. I also have found that if my babes are grumpy, 90% of the time, it’s because they haven’t gotten enough rest. The other 10% is because they’re hungry (maybe there’s a small % for them not getting my phone ;) ).
That being said, I heard somewhere (I felt it was a reputable source at the time – someone I trusted read an article they trusted) that scientists are now seeing that what they thought should be 8 hours of sleep for kids in high school, it’s actually higher, like 9-11 hours. I don’t know many high school kids that get that much sleep (other than my little sister who used to come home from school and go straight to bed until dinner), but It’s interesting to see that they really do need more than we think!